Some parents in Dupo, Ill. are not happy that a biography of President Barack Obama is required reading for fourth-graders. They say the book contains a host of controversial elements, not least of which is that it casts white Americans who disagree with Obama’s politics as racist.
Fourth-grade students at Bluffview Elementary School were instructed that they would be tested and graded on the book’s contents, reports EAGnews.org.
The book, called simply “Barack Obama,” is published by Lerner Publications. The author, Jane Sutcliffe, appears to specialize in these kinds of biographies. She has written similar titles about Jesse Owens, Ronald Reagan, Sacagawea and Milton Hershey.
The kerfuffle about the book originally bubbled up through a Facebook page called Moms Against Duncan (MAD). The group actively opposes implementation of the Common Core curriculum.
EAGNews notes that the Obama book is part of Scholastic’s “Reading Counts” program and an acceptable title under the Common Core State Standards Initiative, which attempts to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country.
You can view a sample of the bio on Google Books.
The book continually identifies Obama on a first-name basis. It bizarrely blames the evils of television for learning ways “to be black” that are hilariously caricatured, stereotypical and negative.
When Barry looked in the mirror, he saw a young black man. But he didn’t know how to be black. And no one was there to teach him.
He decided to act like the black characters he saw on TV. He started acting tough. He cursed. Was that what it meant to be black?
As he got older, he started smoking and drinking. He tried drugs. Was that what it meant to be black?
It’s not clear if Sutcliffe purposefully conflates being a black American with “acting tough,” cussing, “smoking and drinking” and doing drugs.
Sutcliffe is white, according to her Amazon.com author page.
The Obama biography goes on to charge that white Americans did not want to vote for Obama because of his skin color. However, it neatly explains, America’s 44th president was able to bring everybody together in blissful unity.
But some people said Americans weren’t ready for that much change. Sure Barack was a nice fellow, they said. But white voters would never vote for a black president. Other angry voices were raised. Barack’s former pastor called the country a failure. God would damn the United States for mistreating its black citizens, he said.
The book then recounts Obama’s March 2008 speech about race.
“Barack decided it was time to speak to Americans about race,” the next paragraph pedantically explains. “Black people and white people were too often angry with one another. All people were going to have to work together to solve the country’s problems. Only in that way could Americans make a more perfect United States.”
It’s not clear if the book’s author believes the United States is now “more perfect” some six years into the Obama presidency.
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